Three Takeaways from the 2019 Santa Anita Derby
In a much-anticipated showdown between two of trainer Bob Baffert’s top Kentucky Derby hopefuls, the lightly-raced Roadster got the better of his favored stablemate Game Winner in a thrilling battle to the finish line of the $1 million Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park.After taking some time to analyze the results and study the replay, here are my three main takeaways from the race:
Roadster Received the Better Trip
In contrast, Mike Smith rode a perfect race on Roadster, saving ground for much of the race and waiting patiently while Game Winner made his premature bid. Roadster actually fell about six or seven lengths off the lead on the far turn, but as the leaders began to slow down, Roadster pounced with an eye-catching burst of acceleration to rally past Game Winner and win by half a length. According to data from Trakus, Game Winner ran 38 feet (about 4 ¾ lengths) farther than Roadster, more than enough to offset Roadster’s winning margin.
The Track Was Slow
Need any more proof of how slow the track was playing? Despite the uninspiring final time, Roadster received a Beyer speed figure of 98, the second-highest figure assigned to any Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race so far this year.
The Waters Have Gotten Deep for Instagrand
Whether Instagrand will even make the gate is another question. With just 30 Kentucky Derby qualification points to his name, Instagrand would need defections in order to run, and the latest news from Ed Golden of Santa Anita Publicity is that Instagrand's connections are considering the one-mile Pat Day Mile (gr. II) on Kentucky Derby Day as a possible alternative target.